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The Yankees’ most unexpected World Series heroes

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Sometimes the hero is a beloved legend; sometimes it’s someone very random.

World Series X Vizcaino

Since the advent of the World Series MVP in 1955, the Yankees have won 11 championships. They’ve had 12 players named Series MVP, as Bobby Richardson won it in 1960 in a losing effort. If you look through those 12 players, pretty much all of them are pretty notable players. The most “random” winner is maybe Scott Brosius, but even he had been an All-Star that same season in 1998.

However, it takes more than one player and contributions from everywhere in order to win a World Series. Some heroes of a championship will be the star player or the ace pitcher. Some will be a little more unexpected. Let’s give a little shine to the most unexpected World Series heroes in Yankees history.

Brian Doyle

There may be no better example of this phenomenon than Doyle.

Doyle made his major league debut with the Yankees in April 1978. He went on to appear in 39 games for the Yankees, most of which were as a late-inning defensive replacement or pinch-runner. He did end up getting 54 plate appearances, but they were nothing to write home about. In them, he put up a stat line of .192/.192/.192. He hit all singles and never walked. That was good for an OPS+ of 10. However, he ended up as the Yankees’ starting second basemen in the playoffs after Willie Randolph went down with an injury.

Doyle went 2-for-7 in the ALCS and then started Game One of the World Series against the Dodgers on the bench. He started Game Two and recorded a single. However, later in the series is when he truly made his mark.

In Game Five, Doyle went 3-for-5 and was driven home twice in a 12-2 Yankees win that gave them a crucial led in the series. Two days later, he got the Yankees on the board after they had fallen behind in the first inning. Then in the sixth, with the Yankees nursing a one-run lead, he had another RBI knock. Bucky Dent then drove him in and the Yankees never looked back and closed out a second-consecutive championship. Dent ended up earning Series MVP, but Doyle wouldn’t have been a bad choice after OPSing .938.

However impressive Doyle looked though, the Yankees still had Randolph. Therefore, Doyle only ended up getting 36 plate appearances the following year. His numbers would even decline, going from an OPS+ of 10 down to 7. He played a little more in 1980, but not much more. He was selected by the Athletics in that offseason’s Rule 5 draft, but he similarly didn’t do much there. Doyle’s final major league games would come in 1981. He finished his career with a .392 OPS, a decrease of over 500 points from what he did in the 1978 World Series.

Vic Raschi

Were we talking about his pitching exploits, Raschi wouldn’t be on this list. He was an excellent pitcher on six of the Yankees’ World Series championship teams. We’re talking about him because he had perhaps the biggest hit in one of those World Series wins.

Facing elimination, the Yankees sent Raschi to the mound in Game Six of the 1952 World Series against the Dodgers. He delivered by allowing two runs over 7 23 innings. That also might’ve been a run too many if not for what he did at the plate.

With the game tied at one, Raschi stepped to the plate with a runner on second and two outs in the seventh. In a situation that is unimaginable today, he was allowed to hit. He responded by lashing a ball off the pitcher’s shin and into right field, putting New York on top.

The Yankees tacked on another run in the eighth and eventually won 3-2. They followed that with another win the following day to complete the comeback and take the series.

José Vizcaíno

In his entire career, Vizcaíno never posted an OPS+ beyond 100 over a season. The only partial season he did it was his 16-game stint with the Cardinals in 2006, when he put up one of 148. However, when factoring in the 64 games with the Giants earlier that year then it drops to 63.

Vizcaíno’s Yankees career lasted just 73 games in 2000 after a mid-season trade. He took over at second for Chuck Knoblauch following the latter’s throwing issues. The 67 OPS+ he put up over the course of his Yankees tenure is pretty much in line with his career norms. However, he went off in Game One of that year’s World Series.

In the series opener against the Mets, Vizcaíno went 4-for-6 as the game went 12 innings. It might have gone on longer were it not for him. With two on and two out in the 12th, Vizcaíno hit a single, giving the Yankees a walk-off win. They never looked back from there, winning the series in five games. He led the Yankees’ hitters with 11.02% Championship Win Probably Added in the series. Almost all of it came rom that one hit.

All stats and box scores come courtesy of Baseball Reference.